The Task Ahead: Bringing Socialism Nearer

The 50th Anniversary of the founding of our Party is a time for looking back over the years—and forward to the years to come. How will the next half-century compare with the last, and what will it have in store for the Socialist movement? The details, even perhaps the general outline, of how things will work out must largely remain matters for speculation. For our part, we can sum up what we would like to see at any time in one word—Socialism. But a more practical consideration is: how can it be brought about?

We know that the propagation of Socialist ideas must go on, and that these ideas must gain far wider acceptance than they have gained so far. The introduction of Socialism cannot be the work of a few hundred or a few thousand. It must be the work of the overwhelming majority.

At this point it is not uncommon for our critic to remark “so it’s taken you 50 years to get 1,000 Socialists —how long will it take to get 2,000 million?” If he is mathematically minded he may offer his own estimate of the time needed. It cannot, of course, be proved that this estimate is either correct or incorrect. We can only challenge the assumptions on which it is based. If the people we address are favourably disposed towards Socialism they will want to know how to help to bring it about. It is to such readers that this article is directed.

One of the secrets of success in the business of capitalist politics is the promise of immediate delivery of the electoral goods—even though their shoddy quality soon leads to bitter disappointment. So long as there is Capitalism it is always apparently more “practical” to reform it rather than to get rid of it.

When the Socialist advises abstention from supporting any of the parties of Capitalism he is often dismissed as being “unpractical.” Yet how much more practical is it to go on asking for slight variations of something you don’t like anyway?

The inevitable disillusion that awaits supporters of all parties that offer to run Capitalism (and promise to solve its problems) paves the way for people to consider Socialism as a real alternative. At first, they may question the possibility of it ever coming, and may voice all kinds of doubts about it—doubts which, in view of the novelty of the idea to them, are understandable. Eventually the answers to our sympathiser’s questions are more or less accepted by him. He then reaches the point of thinking “Socialism is the answer all right. But what can be done about it?”

What can a Socialist do to bring into being the world he wants? Why, make other Socialists, of course! Talk to them about it, explain what it means, challenge the prejudices that stand in the way, correct the misunderstandings that confuse the issue. It is not just a case of waiting until someone attacks the S.P.G.B. or Socialism and then jumping to the defence. If, for example, someone says “it’s human nature to fight wars” then he can be given evidence that it is no such thing. All ideas that oppose Socialism must be persistently and strongly challenged, and followed up where possible with a positive Socialist point of view.

The sympathetic newcomer to the S.P.G.B.’s case will probably find that he needs to get more knowledge to back up his arguments. Accordingly he will want to read about various aspects of the Socialist case, and maybe discuss them with others who share his outlook. If his feeling of agreement with Socialism is strong enough he will, in due course, consider applying for membership of the Party.

Think of the ways in which the Socialist movement is handicapped now. Think also of what more Socialists could make possible We need more literature—and in particular a bigger and better Socialist Standard with a larger circulation. Last month it was an enlarged special number, which required much more preparation and much more money than we can usually afford. But with more help we could have a journal of this size every month—or more frequently. We could also publish more much needed pamphlets on various aspects of our case.

There are many other things that need to be done on a larger scale. In addition to actually producing the literature (writing, editing, etc.) it has to be distributed and advertised. The number of public meetings we are able to hold is now limited by our meagre resources. When we launch an electoral campaign its success depends on the amount of work members and sympathisers put into it. And remember that all these are very practical ways of bringing our object nearer.

To our sympathisers we would say this. The Socialist movement will never flourish just on sympathy It needs action—your action. If you agree with most of what we say but are doubtful on some point then let us hear about it. Attend the meetings advertised in this journal, and make contact with your local branch of the Party (see back page). If, for one reason or another, you are unable to make these visits you can always write to us.

Stan Parker